It's time to get back out in the garden - here are the best gadgets to help you get it back in shape
Toshiba Satellite L855-11F review
What is it?
The latest addition to Toshiba's range of affordable 'everyday' laptops.
Good performance and multimedia features for less than £600.
The 15.6-inch screen means that it's a bit on the heavy side.
The bottom line:
A good, affordable laptop that will handle most tasks without breaking the bank.
Toshiba's Satellite L755 featured in our list of the best laptops available for less than £600 last year, and it's now followed up with this new L855 model.
It's not a huge makeover - the L855 sports a metallic blue chassis rather than the cherry-red of last year's model, but the basic design hasn't changed all that much. The 15-6-inch screen remains the same, which is no bad thing as it's a good size for watching video and provides a bright, sharp image. The built-in stereo speakers sound a bit tinny though - they're fine for watching some online videos, but you'll want to plug in some headphones for decent music playback.
The size of the screen means there's room for a large, comfortable keyboard with a separate number pad in case you need to do a spot of number-crunching for work. The trackpad's been improved too - the trackpad on the L755 was difficult to see because it lay flush with the wrist-rest panels on either side. That's gone now, and the L855 has a larger, recessed trackpad that supports multi-touch finger gestures, as well as two clearly defined control buttons.
The only disadvantage of the large screen is that it does push the weight up a bit. The L855 weighs in at 2.3kg - almost a full kilogram heavier than some of the Ultrabook laptops we've looked at recently. To be fair, that's about average for a laptop with a 15.6-inch screen, but it does mean that you'll definitely notice the weight when you're carrying the L855 around in your backpack or briefcase.
But, unlike an Ultrabook, the L855 does include a built-in DVD drive, so that you can watch DVD films or install software off a CD or DVD. There's also an HDMI interface that lets you connect it to an HD TV if you want to watch your films on a larger screen, along with a separate connector for a computer monitor, two
high-speed USB 3 ports (several times faster than conventional USB 2), and both wireless networking and a wired Ethernet connector for an office network.
The L855 has the same £549 price tag as its predecessor, but Toshiba has bumped up the speed a little, boosting the Intel i5 processor from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz. That's more than fast enough for day-to-day web surfing and office work, as well as being able to cope with more demanding tasks such as the occasional spot of video-editing or music recording.
The hard disk has been increased too, going up from 640GB to 750GB, so there's plenty of room to store all your music, photos and videos. Battery life is also good, giving us just a few minutes short of five hours when using wi-fi to catch up on some episodes of The Bridge on the BBC iPlayer.
At £549, the L855 is an affordable laptop that provides good performance for work, as well as an attractive screen and multimedia features for entertainment. It doesn't have a separate graphics chip, so it won't be great for playing the latest 3D action games. However, for £50 extra you can get a model called the L855-11P that includes a more powerful Radeon 7670M graphics chip for games and still scrapes in under the £600 mark.
URL: Toshiba Satellite L855-11F
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366x768 resolution
Processor: Intel i5 at 2.5GHz
Hard disk: 750GB
Acer Aspire S3 - for another £100 you get a slimline Ultrabook weighing just 1.35kg.
Samsung Series 3 - a respectable sub-£500 laptop, although the screen and battery life aren't as good as the L855.